Mar 02

Many parents love to spoil their children with mounds of sugary sweets. It’s perfectly understandable, since nothing makes a child happier than lapping at a lollipop, or munching on a candy bar. But while such goodies can be a kid’s best friend, they can also be an adult’s worst enemy.

After all, it’s easy to forget that when a child is fed too much of the sweet stuff, it can make the adult role of supervising them more challenging.

We can all agree that children, for the most part, are precious, lovable, and fun to be around. However, if a child is fed too much sugar, it can take an ugly toll on his or her behavior.  The unfortunate consequences of a sugar overload include temper tantrums, classroom disruptions, and energy burn outs.

Fortunately, all of this can be avoided with a little caution and planning.

Before bringing a youngster to child care, it’s natural that a parent would want to nourish them with a filling breakfast. However, they should resist temptations to plunk a plateful of a chocolate chip pancakes, or a bowl of sugary cereal, on the table.

Here are some tips on how to ensure children don’t overdo it in the sugar category.

  • According to the American Heart Association, toddlers and preschoolers should not consume more than 170 calories worth of added sugar per day. That’s about four teaspoons worth.
  • With this in mind, consider swapping a sugary cereal for fresh fruit, oatmeal, eggs or wholegrain toast.
  • Keep a close watch on the amount of sugar in your child’s juice. This varies from brand to brand, with some companies loading their product with the white stuff.
  • Avoid giving babies younger than six months any fruit juice, and limit the amount of juice to six ounces for those younger than one year.
  • Ask your childcare provider what food they’re providing at lunch and snack times. If they’re already consuming their recommended daily intake at childcare, temper the amount they receive at home.
  • Plan ahead. Most of us eat unhealthy when we’re in a rush. We grab a handful of chips, or a chocolate bar, and head out the door. By stocking fridges with healthy alternatives, and making meals in advance, this can be avoided.
  • Keep goodies out of children’s reach. They can be sneaky, and may manage to grab a cookie or two on the way out the door.
  • Leading by example is a great way to teach children proper eating habits. Parents should ensure their own diets are rich with nutrition, rather than jammed with nutritionally useless syrups and sugars.

Remember: breakfast is widely considered the most important meal for a reason. If it’s eaten properly, it can help a child be more attentive, responsive, and better mannered.

We all want those traits for our children, and this is one very attainable way of accomplishing it.

Unfortunately, when a child misbehaves at daycare because they were fed too much sugar at home, it affects the entire group. It causes other children to lose focus, disrupts learning, and ties up precious resources. And, so, parents can do everyone – including their own children – a favor by capping sugar at small amounts.

by Michelle Thompson
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